Wendy & Bonnie
Band members Related acts
- Bonnie Flower -- vocals, drums (1968-69)
- Wendy Flower -- vocals (1968-69)
- The Crystal Fountain
- Wendy Flower (solo efforts)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Country/State: San Francisco, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: cutout notch along right edge
GEMM catalog ID: 5128
I approached this one expecting the worst (aka something like Lily and Marie), but even to a musical curmudgeon like myself, I'll readily agree that this one is special. Certainly not for everyone the results are a little too fey to be considered the true psych masterpiece that many big time dealers would have you believe. Still, 1969's "Genesis" stands as a memory of a time and place far, far away and is well worth the investment ...
Bonnie and Wendy Flower were a pair of teenagers living in San Francisco when they recorded this flower power opus. Ironically by the time they were 'discovered' singing by the jazz musician Cal Tjader (Tjader knew the Flower parents who were both San Francisco-based musicians), the two were already seasoned musicians having played on a couple of 45s billed to ' The Crystal Fountain'. For his part Tjader was responsible for bringing the sisters to the attention of Skye Records which he had recently formed with fellow jazz musicians Gary McFarland and Garbo Szabo.
Signed to Skye and produced by McFarland, "Genesis" served to showcase the young sisters substantial talents. Responsible for writing all ten tracks (with backing from an un-credited all star collection of sessions players including Larry Carlton who turned in a wonderful solo on 'You Keep Hanging On My Mind') , the resulting material and performances were far beyond what you'd expect from a 13 year old (Bonnie) and a 17 year old (Wendy). Exemplified by tracks like the opener 'Let Yourself Go Another Time', 'The Paisley Window Pane' and 'I Realized You' the album offered up an engaging mix of folk, jazz and psych influences which were frequently stirred together on the same tracks. Normally touchy-feely sentiments wouldn't do a great deal for me, but in this case the sisters sentiments came off as somewhat naive, but completely sincere. The fact that much of the subject matter was kind of strange ('Endless Pathway') didn't hurt the proceedings. At the same time McFarland's production was fairly sparse, putting the emphasis squarely on the Flower's wonderful harmonies (only sisters could harmonize like this). Add in a distinctive lysergic atmosphere and you've got an original and still largely undiscovered treasure. Admittedly that description probably did little to tell you what this LP really sounded like, but based on a song like 'It's What's Really Happening' imagine The Free Design had they known how to craft a truly commercial melody, or perhaps The Mamas and the Papas had they truly believed in the flower power concept (and spent a month heavily dosed) and you'll be in the right aural ballpark. Cool. Very cool ...
Before going bankrupt Skye tapped the LP for an instantly obscure single: 'It's What's Really Happening' b/w 'The Paisley Window Pane' (Skye catalog number 4514).
"Genesis" track listing:
1.) Let Yourself Go Another Time (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 2:35
2.) The Paisley Window Pane (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 2:58
3.) I Realized You (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 3:42
4.) By the Sea (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 4:03
5.) You Keep Hanging On My Mind (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 2:58
2.) Five O'Clock In the Morning (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 2:42
3.) Endless Pathway (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 3:38
4.) Children Laughing (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 2:45
5.) The Winter Is Cold (Bonnie Flower - Wendy Flower) - 2:34
Unfortunately the jazz oriented Skye label lacked the resources to adequately support the album. Things weren't helped when Skye collapsed within a couple of months of the album's release, or by McFarland's untimely 1971 death (he was reportedly drinking in a New York City bar when someone slipped liquid methadone into his drink resulting in an instant and fatal heart attack).
Doing occasional backing vocals and commercial jingles the sisters kept active through the early 1970s. Wendy turned her attention to children's education, recording some children's music and has a small website at:
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